With Israel’s auction of 4G suitable spectrum expected to get underway today, Globes Online reports that Partner Communications has at the last minute asked the Ministry of Communications (MoC) to reconsider the tender terms. With the nation’s longer-standing cellcos said to have argued that the sale process favours newer players such as Golan Telecom and HOT Mobile, the report cites Partner as saying that such operators should not be afforded protection as an ‘infant industry’ due to the fact that they are supported by ‘international tycoons in no need of help from the Israeli regulator’.
In total six companies are expected to vie for LTE-suitable spectrum, those being long-standing mobile network operators Partner, Cellcom and Pelephone, alongside Golan Telecom and HOT Mobile, both of which launched services of their own infrastructure in May 2012. Rounding out the participants is 018 Xphone. A total of eight 5MHz blocks and one 3MHz block in the 1800MHz band are up for grabs, with bids starting at ILS10 million (USD2.53 million) per MHz. Those companies that emerge victorious from the tender will be required to pay half of their bid price within 45 days of the tender closing, and provide guarantees for the remainder. However, Golan, HOT and Xphone could benefit from a discount on their purchase price – should they win – based on the increase to their market share over the coming years. Both Partner and Cellcom meanwhile are also restricted in terms of the amount of frequencies they may acquire, with both allowed to buy no more than 2×3MHz due to the fact that they both already have 4G-suitable spectrum. All other bidders, however, will face a cap of 20MHz for new spectrum.